Kenya Teachers’ Strike: What’s Your Take?

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September 15, 2015

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Photo credit: Teacher Solidarity

Photo credit: Teacher Solidarity

With numerous twists, turns and surprise rulings, the battle for fair pay for teachers is one that begun long before some of us were born, and continues to rage on to date.

On the surface, it appears straight forward enough: these are the people we trust to mold the minds of our young ones- of course they should be fairly compensated.

You wouldn’t want a disgruntled teacher in charge of laying the foundations for your child’s future, now would you?

Yet, what seems like a black and white resolution has come with more than its fair share of theatrics and threats; the only loser here being our students.

A recent ruling by the Court of Appeal upping teachers’ salaries gave us hope that the decades old issue would finally be put to bed.

Naturally, this soon ran into a wall that ended with the Teachers’ Service Commission being urged by teachers’ unions to implement the 50%-60% pay increments.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and Kenya Union of Post-Primary Teachers (KUPPET), opting to stage a boycott to induce the TSC to keep up their end of the bargain.

TSC’s response has been to file a case requesting the Employee and Labour Relations Court to order teachers to pick up their tools and return to work.

KNUT and KUPPET have further requested the High Court not to give this case audience until the Court of Appeal ruling is put to action.

Photo credit: Voices

Photo credit: Voices

Even the intervention of the President himself has failed to calm the waters, inciting a bigger uproar if anything.

His Excellency President Kenyatta toward the end of last week proclaimed that the salary increment was not based in reality as the country simply lacks the financial resources to make the same come true.

As the strike enters it’s third week, the teachers’ message to the president and government at large was clear: “We cannot and will not teach”.

Our Deputy president has issued a statement along the same lines as well, backing up the statements of the TSC and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).

The two bodies have affirmed that Kenya does not have the monetary muscle to bring the increment to fruition, adding that the teachers’ salaries should be harmonized with what reflects in the bank accounts of other civil servants as well.

KNUT, through secretary general Wilson Sossion remain in direct defiance of this DP Ruto’s order that teachers should resume work, calling instead for all involved to stand firm in the boycott. Alongside KNUT Chairman Mudzo Nzili, Sossion has called for teachers to stay out of schools, urging parents to withdraw kids from their schools as well.

Kenyans’ sentiments fall between two sides: wanting a conclusion to the strike and the needful pay increment, or concern for the financial standing of the country, questioning the wisdom of diverting scarce resources towards the pay raise.

Of course, even those that oppose the major increment do not do so on the basis of wanting to deny teachers their livelihoods- most would simply prefer the increment be on a long term basis, or of a slightly more manageable percentage. Where do you stand on this debate?

Wishing you all a fair week.


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